Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

There are some real crazies on TV

I watch way too much television. I try not to turn it on until evening, because it is very easy for me to be sucked in to HGTV early in the morning, which I will watch until American Chopper comes on at 2, and then go to 5 with the Tuetel family. It really is ridiculous, and it interferes with my reading. I am watching several of the Housewives shows (Bev Hills, Miami, NY, NJ but not Atlanta.) Right now I'm watching the show to end all shows when it comes to crazies. A show that focuses on the worst of human behavior. Of course, I'm talking about Hoarders. That is one slice of humanity at the bottom of the barrel.

I feel sorry for the hoarders and I can certainly understand what being overwhelmed is all about. I get not being able to deal with the piles of crap, believe me. My house looks like Hoarders live here because we have piles and piles of Gemma's clothing all over the floor. She tends to use the floor as one big dresser. Always has. There are 4 separate piles in the living room alone.

What bothers me about Hoarders is how they keep animals. They all seem to have way too many animals living in their houses. Goats, chickens, rabbits, cats... the type of animal seems unimportant. But nobody cleans up after the animals and the feces and urine piles up, the animals aren't fed properly or given water, or ever see a vet, so they die and are just left there because the hoarders don't seem able to acknowledge that they have sick animals.

This show affects me a lot. I definitely have some issues with throwing things out. It is very difficult for me to not pile things up. When we got ready to move last summer we threw out almost two full dumpsters of crap, most of it belonging to the kids. But plenty of it was mine. I'm very attached to my stuff. That's why I've been so upset about the movers losing so much of my stuff. Everything I own came to me from hard work. I didn't inherit stuff from my deceased relatives, nor did I get fancy gifts for birthdays or Hanukah. Quite the opposite, in fact. Everything I own I chose because I wanted and loved it. I keep my things forever. Most of my things are well over 20 years old.

But I can see myself collecting stuff if I had the budget to do so. Thankfully, I don't have a lot of extra cash, so I won't be featured on the Hoarders show.

 However, I really worry about Graham. He could easily be a hoarder. Right now he has been keeping his room remarkably tidy, something I never thought I could say. He has a very large bedroom, a walk-in closet and a small alcove where he keeps his desk and dirty clothes. He is even keeping most of his dishes in the kitchen instead of hoarding them in his room. Because I can keep a sharp eye on his movements, he is unable to sneak in friends and large batches of junk food. All of this is good news.

However, his habits in the kitchen remain disgusting. I can;e get him to take all of the empty cardboard boxes down to the curb for the garbage men, so half of the large kitchen is covered in empty boxes. And worse, he WILL NOT do the dishes or wipe a counter unless I punish him first. The sink is always half filled with some toxic soup of god-knows-what and often there are pieces of silverware swimming in the noxious swill. /It is disgusting but to get him to clean it up is almost impossible. This is why I worry about his hoarding. On his own, it would never occur to him to clean up after himself. He never throws anything away. Every night, just before I turn in for the night, I go into the kitchen and toss every tea bag and wrapper, every box and packaging that he has left astray on the counter. Pizza boxes pile up and yet they do not make it out with the garbage. I don't understand it, but the propensity for serious hoarding is lurking inside of him.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

It all seems to go too fast

I'm having a hard time keeping up with all the things happening in the world right now. Between the earthquake in Christchurch, the insanity that is Glenn Beck, all that is happening in Wisconsin, the daily craziness of Washington DC, and the totally bizarre changes in the middle east, I'm just overwhelmed with the news. It is too much, people. I can't process all this.

Today one of the large national teachers unions announced that they are ready to look at tenure. Thank F'ing God is my basic response. As a former teacher I believe in teachers being protected by unions, but I also believe that there are a lot of teachers that have lost their mojo and resent being in the classroom. Those teachers are so burnt out that they need to be dismissed for incompetence, but with the tenure rules so entrenched, there is just no way to get rid of them.

Years ago Gemma had an English teacher who was toxic. Not just to her, to every kid. He was a horrible teacher and he graded unfairly. Once I figured out that he was a big problem and that his refusal to meet with any parent, plus his refusal to attend an IEP meeting meant that there was no way I could possible talk to him, I went to the principal to complain. With me I brought about 7 manuals of style, and other documents proving my point that the teacher was full of shit. The principal admitted that this teacher was a pile of trouble over many years of complaints, but with tenure the principal's hands were tied. The crappy teacher is still teaching in that middle school, despite his lousy skills and attitude.

This experience, on top of a few other crappy teaching experiences over the years taught me that tenure, a great protection for teaching job, was not so great for the kids that got stuck with noxious teachers. As a former teacher, I worked with one teacher that honestly believed he had been taken on a space ship and examined by aliens. Yes, he was bonkers. He was also the head of my department and the guy that wrote my reviews. If there was ever a guy that should not have been protected by tenure, it was this character.  This was the very beginning of my career, my first job teaching and I got to see first hand that tenure wasn't a good thing.

I believe in unions and collective bargaining, but I've never really warmed up to tenure. I don't understand why teachers are such a special subset of employees that once they've worked for three years and earn tenure that their jobs are protected for life. Besides supreme court justices, who else has a guaranteed job for life?

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Getting my hopes up

I wish things had turned out differently when my kids were enrolled in school. But even in school, they were hosed. They had a guidance counselor that was first in maternity leave during Graham's senior year, and she returned the following year part time 3 days a week. She was perfectly nice and all, but she was awful as a point person for college applications. The school had a special person for college entrance help, but she was a disaster. She had a tremendous work load serving hundreds of rich needy kids. Plus, she had no interest in a kid that needed extra help. Let's just say that I have little respect person.  Many, no most of the graduating seniors had hired help to get through their application

Consequently my kids got the message loud and clear that they were not college material, especially since they had no clue of .what they wanted to study.By the time Gemma graduated, Graham went into a deep funk. He didn't know why (no meds MIGHT be the reason!) What he kept telling me over and over in the angriest tone of voice is that he didn't want to go to college, he didn't know where, or even how to apply using naviance He was a wreck.

Gemma knew she wanted to take this year, but I'm betting that will eventually find the right school when she's ready. Right now she is having the time of her life in Miami.

To recap, 2 kids in various stages of wandering. I don't worry about Gem. She will be fine. Graham? Not so much. He wouldn't even let me open my mouth to discuss the possibility of going to college. Mr No Sir, No Way was a rock that stuck tight.

Until tonight. We were talking this afternoon about this and that when the subject came up. And he said unto me, " I do want to go to college." And the heavens opened and revealed a sapphire sky. Tis a miracle indeed.
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The Bowl and the Blankie

This is the tale of two kitties. Two very weird cats that happen to live with us. We are their slaves.We still love them, even if they barely tolerate us.Their names are Spot and Pepper. These are their stories.

When Pepper came to live with us she was about 12 weeks old and totally adorable.She grew up to resemble a loaf of bread. Seriously, she is a fatty with the shortest legs and tail ever.Pepper has a very odd habit. She likes to move her water dish before drinking out of it. By move, I mean drag it from room to room. You never know where the bowl is going to be from minute to minute which means that if you don't watch your feet, you'll end up tripping over the bowl. What started out as a little nuisance has now blossomed into a big problem because we have porcelain tile floors and the noise of the bowl scraping over the tiles is totally annoying, especially in the middle of the night.

Now, Spottie came to live with us when was a tiny little tyke, all of 4 weeks old. He was taken away from his mama way too early. We had to bottle feed him when he first arrived. Spot has always been a stand-offish kinda guy. He likes his "me time" more than just about anything. Anything except where he likes to spend his time alone. It all started when I bought a polar fleece blanket that is made like shearling. I brought that blanket home, put it on the sofa, and he jumped up on it and fell in love. The blankie is the mama he misses. He likes to nurse the blanket by picking up a piece of it in his mouth and while he is sucking on it, he kneads and kneads and kneads ad nauseum. It is adorable to see this solitary cat that loves a blankie more than his humans.

Now, does this give you an idea of why I'm slightly nuts?

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Back from the Abyss, cont.

I have not fallen into the sea. nor have I died. We had a storm, our cable/internet connection was down, and we just got back online today. And before anything else, I want to say that Comcast was wonderful. They certainly have changed since we last were customers in 2002.

Not having access to the outside world was interesting. Especially since I have been having disruptive sleep and very weird dreams with aural hallucinations. One morning I sent Graham donstaires twice because I was sure I heard the doorbell. And one day I kept seeing things in lime green for a few seconds, and then it would fade to normal.  It sounds bizarre, but it was actually quite amusing. I'm sure it has to do with a new medication that was added to my regime. I have a doctor's appointment coming soon and we'll be discussing all the very strange vision things that are happening to me.

Next bizarre happening was that our downstairs neighbor kept complaining that her ceiling was leaking. After she and her husband looked and looked for a leak, she had her son come over. He poked around and moved a lot of stuff and decided that the leak was beyond his expertise. The next day son and plumber showed up, played around with flashlights and stinky goop, and said they would return the next day. They came back and tore apart my entire kitchen to find an old cast iron pipe with a hole in it. They took FOREVER to fix it, and than didn't have time to finish, so it was another day without a kitchen. It took 3 days for the plumber to repair the leak, but he didn't replace, just patched the pipe.  The thing is, it's probably going to leak again. And that means another week of no meals and strangers in my house.

While all this was going on, Gemma left for Miami and her friend that had my handbag was still incommunicado. I left email, voicemail, IMs Text messages..and no response. After two weeks of not having access to my money, I got pissed and threatened to call the police on her, and she finally got back to me and said that I could come and get it. So I explained for the bazillionth time that I had NO access to my money without my purse, and she never responded. I did call the police, but they were totally unhelpful. What a shock. Overpaid assholes.

That's enough for now. Next installment will contain the story about the Miami dog, Graham's general cluelessness, and a funny kitty tale.


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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Not a great day

I know that there are fools out there that like winter, but I am not one of them. Now that the truck has left for Ft. Myers, I'm desperate for warm breezes. Instead, Mother Nature has been a total bitch and it is 15 degrees outside with a windchill that turns it into negative numbers. This is not a joke, especially since we have no heat in the house since we ran out of oil.

I wanted to go to ABCD to apply for fuel assistance, but I can't because I no longer have the documents I need.

Why? Because my handbag is missing. The last time I saw it was Sat. night when Gem was carrying it for me. We went in her friend's car to the store, we were gone maybe 15 minutes, but the bag has not been seen since. In the bag are the documents that I need. Things like my SS card, Medicare and Mass Health card, ID, etc. I cancelled my debit card (4th one in the past year). But my check book, birth cert, passport, etc were all in my filofax, which is my entire life in one place.

Problem is, Gem's friend does not answer her phone or respond to texts. Which sucks because days are slowly passing and she has ignored every attempt to respond. I'm about to murder then both.

Meanwhile, Gem and Graham are not speaking to each other and making my life even more miserable than usual.


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Monday, February 07, 2011

What is my role?

I spend an inordinate amount of time doing nothing. It isn't necessarily my choice to do nothing. There is a whole world outside my door with plenty to do. I seem to be having a crisis of faith. My desire to do something is continually trumped by a combination of abject laziness and a lack of understanding about how to redefine myself now that I am no longer a mom of kids who need her daily. Not that my kids don't still need me. After all, who would be their living bank account if not for me? But they don't demand me to care for them like a toddler would. They might behave like toddlers, but they can cook their own meals and wash their own clothes and bathe all by themselves.

I honestly don't know what to do with myself. I want to work, but I don't think I even remember how. If I could go back to my former career, that might be a successful move. But my former career basically died out in the past ten years and it is now a job that pays nothing and is rare as most people no longer buy software with printed documentation. Besides, I think 20+ years at the worlds most boring job is enough punishment for this lifetime.

I've investigated working at home jobs, and have yet to find one that I could do part time that is interesting, makes use of my skill set, and could deal with my health issues. It seems obvious to me that what I can do successfully is a job where I'm my own boss, that keeps teaching me new things so I don't lose interest, and allows me to work my own weird hours. Like at night, when I'm awake. It has to be a job that pays up, but not over $1000/mth so I don't lose my Medicare and Social Security.

I wish I could make something that I could sell on ETSY. I actually have a good idea but I need a jigsaw, wood, and paint for a startup.

I feel like all I say is But but but. I'm overwhelmed with excuses for being stuck. My confidence is at an all time low. But but but....

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Sunday, February 06, 2011

Scent of this woman

Because of my asthma I am not a perfume wearer as it makes me cough and choke. This is a totally first world problem, but it makes me sad because I happen to love a few perfumes and have in the past worn them daily. This was when my asthma was totally benign and under control. And then I got pregnant with twins and that was the end of my perfume wearing.

My asthma has been totally under control for over a year now, so I am thinking of going back to wearing perfume. A little goes a long way, and it is just so delightful to have a light tickle of a delicious scent. It is my only girly-girl affectation. I don't wear makeup of any kind, I rarely brush the frizz on top of my head, and I only do nail polish in the summer. I'm pretty much a failure as a girl. Too bad I'm not gay because I'd be a much better lesbian than a straight woman. Oh well.

Tonight I was reading Blackbird's blog and she was asking about wooden toothbrushes. I gave her a link to Colonial Drug in Harvard Square, a very high quality emporium specializing in men's shaving articles, perfumes, Mason & Pearson hairbrushes, and very fancy soaps and haircare products. When I was in grad school I was a frequent customer because the carried Rene Furterer's full haircare line as well my favorite soaps. I was very well groomed in grad school.

I wondered if they carried my all time favorite parfum, Krizia's Teatro Alla Scala, so I searched and found that this perfume, introduced in 1986, is still in production. Be still me heart.I LOVE the smell of this complex perfume. It is not for the delicate. It is not a floral scent, moreso spicy and complex. What I found particularly humerous is that in the "If you like this you might also like..." section has pretty much every perfume I have owned and loved. Shalimar (my mother's signature scent), Opium, Lauren, and Fendi. I have owned and loved every one of those perfumes which makes me predictable and boring. Figures.

What are your favorite scents?

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Thursday, February 03, 2011

Achy breaky feet

I have a nasty case of neuropathy. If I complain about it. just assume I'm in pain. Neuropathy is one of the nastier side effects of diabetes, and until it happened to me, I had no clue as to what it feels like or why it happens.

Imagine that you are sitting in a nice comfy chair. You feel fine except your toes are tingling. It isn't like a pins and needle tingle. It burns, but at the same time your feet feel freezing cold. Any movement burns more and the skin covering your feet feels like it has been stretched out until it is too tight for your feet.The burning is painful to the touch, so much so that shoes and socks are too painful to have on your feet. Even Uggs hurt. Being barefoot, however isn't a cure. It just makes your feet colder. When you go to sleep at night, you have to stick your feet out of the covers because the weight of even a down comforter is too much for your feet to bear.

That is what neuropathy is, or at least it is what my neuropathy feels like. I think everyone has similar symptoms, but then again I honestly don't know anyone else that has it, so I can't really ask. All I know is, sometimes the pain is so distracting that I honestly can't think of anything else.

I take a medication for the neuropathy. Strange medicine. It is an antidepressant called Elavil, and it sort of works. If I take two pills, my feet stop the constant aching after a couple of days, but the drug makes me so tired that I can and often do sleep round the clock. So that isn't always the best choice. If I only take one, my feet still hurt, but they aren't so bad that I can't ignore them. They just hurt. The thing about neuropathy is that every day it is different. It hurts more if I eat sugar, but it doesn't react the opposite way is my blood glucose is very low.

Often when I go to sleep my feet ache so badly that I have trouble falling asleep. Trying to decide what to do when this happens is quite difficult. Like right now, when I should be fast asleep but my feet are aching and burning. I try to take my mind off the pain. I try to be one with the pain. However, I suck and all I really want is something to take away the pain.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Meet the neighbors

Due to the insane snowfall, nobody is outside much unless they are shoveling, but I have had the pleasure of meeting several of my neighbors. The people upstairs are a couple and their Boston Terrier. He is a roofer, she is a nurse.

Across the street is a middle-aged woman with identical twin boys who look to be about 4. The boys are just adorable and I know I'm going to like their mom because she dresses them in different colors and not just alike. They live in a beautiful old Victorian that has been well cared for. The whole neighborhood is filled with Victorians but their house stands out with a lovely turret and a whole wraparound porch. It is quite lovely.

Next door to us on the left side is another large house painted a soft butter cream yellow.  That house contains a family with a lot of kids.They also have a lot of friends that come over so I'm not sure which kids live there and which kids are just visiting. But they sound like a fun household.

Around the block is the park, which has the sledding hill for younger kids. We've heard that it is the neighborhood hangout for the scummier sorts. It's kind of like a needle park, popular with teens and young adults you do not want hanging out with your kids. Fortunately, my kids are scared and rather disgusted by the hangouts, and steer clear.
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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The best things in life

Sometimes we go about our lives forgetting how blessed we are and how lucky we are to be first world residents. I know I do, and when I hear first world whining I often try to gently point out to the whiner that perhaps there might be a good reason for others seemingly strange or annoying behavior. Like the woman who was complaining on Twitter about another passenger that was barefoot in the waiting area. To me, a champion of never wearing anything on my feet whenever possible, responded that perhaps the offender had neuropathy or other foot problems that made shoe wearing painful. This pissed off the poster, who was looking for agreement amongst her fellow tweeters.

Today in the mail came a gift from a friend. It was a simple gift, but so meaningful and so welcome. Those kind of gifts are the best, aren't they? They make me realize how lucky I am to have people that care for our dysfunctional family and know how to make the perfect gift to enhance our lives.

So what did I get in the mail? A shower curtain and hooks. Something we take totally for granted until we don't have one. We put it up immediately and I was in hot water within minutes of hanging it up. OMG, that was the best shower ever. I can't even begin to describe how much joy I got just standing under a hot stream of water, shampooing my hair. It was freaking fabulous!

Better yet, I got to put on all clean clothes after a long trip to the laundramat!  I was positively spottless, and it felt great!

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